NBCUniversal is rebooting its G4 channel as the Esquire Network. Pictured… (Damian Dovarganes / Associated…)
NBCUniversal wants to trade in its geeks for metrosexuals.
The media giant announced Monday that it was rebooting its tiny G4 cable channel, which has long focused on attracting young, male video game players. But because most gamers don't watch much TV, ratings for G4 have been puny.
So in a bid for higher numbers, and a larger share of advertising dollars, the company is attempting an upgrade: On April 22, the channel will be rebranded as the Esquire Network, a partnership with Hearst Magazines and its iconic publication.
The goal for the channel is lofty: create a television network aimed at modern, sophisticated men, NBCUniversal said in a statement.
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Financial arrangements were not disclosed, although NBCUniversal will continue to own the channel. The network will be managed by Adam Stotsky, a former NBC marketing executive turned programmer. Stotsky, who became general manager of G4 a year ago, will work with David Granger, editor in chief of Esquire magazine, to develop the brand.
“There is a vastly under-served audience in cable TV – today’s modern man – and by joining forces with Esquire, we will deliver a multi-platform experience to this upscale, engaged, passionate audience, one that widens the aperture beyond G4's technology and gaming base,” Stotsky said.
The move comes four months after NBCUniversal canceled G4's signature shows, "Attack of the Show!" and "X-Play," and laid off a big chunk of the channel's staff. The rebranded network is expected to expand on G4's repertoire of "games, gear and gadgets" to reach a broader audience with scripted and unscripted shows that explore food, fashion, travel and women.
The programming slate includes a new series called "Knife Fight," executive produced by Drew Barrymore and others. Hosted by “Top Chef” winner Ilan Hall, "Knife Fight" was described as "an underground, after-hours cooking competition where talented chefs go head to head in front of a rowdy crowd of celebrities, critics and die-hard foodies."
Another original series, with a working title of "The Getaway," is executive produced by Anthony Bourdain and features globe-trotting personalities who take viewers to their favorite city to show them where they like to eat, drink, shop and hang out. Reruns of the quirky NBC sitcom "Parks and Recreation," starring Amy Poehler, will help round out the schedule.
The announcement comes nearly nine months after NBCUniversal rebranded its E! Entertainment in an effort that sought to close the chapter on the channel's more trashy elements and usher in a higher degree of sophistication.
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